Veterinary education provided by Professor Cutter



John Clarence Cutter, after studying at Massachusetts Agricultural College and in the Dartmouth College Department of Medicine, graduated from the Harvard University Department of Medicine in 1877. In the following year, he was recruited by Sapporo Agricultural College as a professor and as a consulting physician in the Hokkaido Development Commission. Even after the end of his two-year contract, his attachment to Sapporo prompted him to stay in Sapporo for another six years and four months, until he left Sapporo in 1887. During that time, he delivered lectures on veterinary medicine and fisheries science at the university, starting in 1880, imparting profound knowledge to students, which marked the dawn of veterinary medicine and fisheries science in Japan.


Among those who enrolled in his lectures, notable students include Takajiro Ikeda, who later changed his surname to Minami and was the second president of Hokkaido Imperial University; Kanzo Uchimura, an official in charge of the fisheries division of the Hokkaido Development Commission and an advocate of the Non-church Movement; Inazo Ota, who later changed his surname to Nitobe and was a professor of Tokyo Imperial University and a deputy secretary general of the League of Nations; Isamu Hiroi, a professor of Tokyo Imperial University who specialized in civil engineering; and Kingo Miyabe, a professor of the Faculty of Agriculture at Hokkaido Imperial University who specialized in botany and received the Order of Culture.


Along with the specialized subjects stated above, Professor Cutter also instructed students in various subjects, such as English and English literature, while supervising the University as a school doctor and the National Sapporo Hospital as a consulting physician in the Hokkaido Development Commission.

He was vigorous, daring, true to his beliefs, confident and honest, and these qualities that he sought for himself he also sought for others. 


Professor Koichi Ichikawa and tar cancer



One of the lasting achievements in the history of cancer research – the artificial induction of tar cancer, research for which Kochi Ichikawa earned a Nobel Prize nomination – is a tribute to the patient efforts made by Dr. Ichikawa, one of our predecessors at the School of Veterinary Medicine. A talented student from Ibaraki Prefecture, Dr. Ichikawa graduated from Tohoku Imperial University, where he studied in the College of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Science (the predecessor of the present Hokkaido University Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine). He then went on to the Graduate School and immediately began studying as a special research scholar under Professor Katsusaburo Yamagiwa of Tokyo Imperial University. In 1913, championing the chronic irritation hypothesis of carcinogenesis that was first proposed by Dr. Virchow of Germany, Dr. Ichikawa applied tar to rabbit ears day after day. Of the 101 experimental cases whose experimental periods ranged from 70 to 450 days, 31 rabbits were found to develop cancer of the ears. Three years had passed since his arrival at Tokyo Imperial University. His quiet dedication earned him a Nobel Prize nomination, but another candidate, Professor Fibiger of Denmark, received that prize in 1926 for growing cancer in a rat’s stomach using special parasites with cockroaches as an intermediate host. You will not find Professor Fibiger’s name in cancer-related textbooks in America or Europe these days; instead, these textbooks invariably cite an article by Yamagiwa and Ichikawa on the tar cancer they artificially induced. These researchers won the Japan Academy Award for this achievement in 1919, when Dr. Ichikawa was only 31 years old. Later, he returned to the Hokkaido University School of Veterinary Medicine and established the comparative pathology course. Even now, calligraphy of the words “Effort” and “Patience,” written by Dr. Ichikawa, hang on the wall of the director’s room at the research faculty. The rabbit’s ear in which Dr. Ichikawa induced tar cancer is displayed at the Hokkaido University Museum and in the specimen exhibition room of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.


Professor Hiroshi Kida and influenza



Influenza is seasonal and reaches its peak in winter. The influenza viruses circulating in humans are consistently changing their antigenicity, so-called “antigenic drift”, year by year. For prevention and control of influenza with vaccines, vaccines have to be manufactured before the flu season. This means the vaccine strains for influenza have to be updated every year by predicting viruses that circulate most commonly during the upcoming season. But we had been unable to predict them, because we were not able to identify the mechanism behind antigenic drift and shift.

After completing the master’s program of the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, Hiroshi Kida took charge of the development, improvement and manufacture of flu vaccines at a pharmaceutical company. To elucidate how antigenic change occur and how pandemic viruses emerge, he returned to the Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine in 1976 and start his research. It turned out that antigenic drifts were triggered when variant viruses, which had already existed in a virus population, were selected under human immune pressure. Professor Kida identified the influenza as a zoonosis, and revealed that gene of avian and animal influenza viruses are originated from viruses in colon of migratory ducks and that ducks’ nesting lakes and ponds in Northern regions served as the influenza virus gene pool in nature. He also substantiated that a pandemic influenza virus emerged in 1968 via genetic reassortment in pigs concurrently infected with an H3Nx influenza virus circulating in migratory ducks through domestic ducks and the H2N2 virus, which was circulating among humans at the time, in southern China. In addition, he found a new neutralizing mechanism of antibodies that inhibit viral infections. Based on these findings, Professor Kida advocated measures to control influenza virus infections in birds and mammals including humans, while suggesting and promoting a national project aimed at overcoming zoonosis. In order to boost dramatically the level of research and education in zoonosis science, he established the Research Center for Zoonosis Control at our university. This was the first such center in the world. He made remarkable academic contributions to various disciplines, including veterinary medicine and virology, and played a central role in livestock hygiene and public health, as well as in promoting the applied fields, such as preventive medicine. This has earned him a high reputation domestically and internationally as an advocate of an epidemiological research model for zoonosis.

Professor Kida makes suggestions only after careful consideration, takes action by himself, maintains a stance of making efforts to attain his goals and adopts a straightforward approach. His determination never flags, which makes him look as if he were a stubborn father, but he kindheartedly and tolerantly accepts anyone who tackles things head-on every time. This manner endears him to a great number of students and research scientists. His enormous enthusiasm for research and his devoted instruction are evidenced by the fact that he has fostered numerous experts who are playing active roles in Japan and abroad. He remains vigorous and active as a University Professor at Hokkaido University.


Partnership between the Hokkaido University School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Zambia, Africa, School of Veterinary Medicine


It has been more than 30 years since the Hokkaido University School of Veterinary Medicine established a partnership with the University of Zambia, and this represents a constructive relationship between a university in Japan and its counterpart in Africa. This partnership started in response to a request by the Republic of Zambia when the Hokkaido University School of Veterinary Medicine played a central role in promoting a grand project that aimed to establish veterinary education in Zambia. As has been true for people in other former British colonies, people in the Republic of Zambia were not provided with any educational opportunities that might foster veterinarians. About 20 years after Zambia’s independence, there were only a couple dozen veterinarians in that republic, and the lack of veterinary management resulted in rampant livestock diseases, low productivity and food safety problems, all of which made it impossible for the country to export agricultural and livestock products that could have served as an alternative to mineral resources with respect to earning foreign currency.

The School of Veterinary Medicine was built at the University of Zambia with grants from the Japanese government. From two years before its completion, Japanese instructors consisting mainly of teaching staff and graduates of the Hokkaido University School of Veterinary Medicine were dispatched under a technical cooperation project team of JICA. They played a central role in promoting the first veterinary education to be provided in this newly independent Southern African nation, in collaboration with teachers dispatched through supporting institutions of England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Australia, as well as those employed by the University of Zambia from India and Nigeria. In 1990, the first veterinarians to receive veterinary education in Zambia graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zambia. We have chosen excellent students with great ambition and a strong desire for learning from among graduates in this early period, sent them to the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine and the graduate schools of other universities as Japanese government scholarship students, and conferred doctoral degrees on them. Most of those graduates have been playing a vital role as teaching staff at the University of Zambia. We are extremely gratified to have contributed to the promotion of independent veterinary education in Zambia.

After completion of the initial technical cooperation program through JICA, our teaching staff of the School of Veterinary Medicine are seeking more proactive relationships in diverse ways, though the following:

-          Continuous support for students who return home, through the use of various scientific research grants;

-          The promotion of a new extension project for veterinary education by JICA at the University of Zambia School of Veterinary Medicine;

-          The promotion of a student exchange program by our school as part of MEXT-subsidized projects (Good Practice);

-          The establishment of a research base in Zambia for the Hokkaido University Research Center for Zoonosis Control, which has deep relations with the Hokkaido University School of Veterinary Medicine;

-          The formation of a Zambia-based research consortium on environmental toxicity in the African continent; and

-          The promotion of a large-scale, real-world-based research project that includes measures against infectious diseases and environmental contamination


Our school’s relationship with the University of Zambia School of Veterinary Medicine, which was unilaterally directed by our school, has developed into a strong interactive partnership.

One large-scale research project is being promoted under an initiative of Hokkaido University, and another is being promoted under an initiative of the University of Zambia with the support of the World Bank. Additionally, the closer relationship between the universities has allowed the overseas office that we set up at the University of Zambia to be used as a hub for the direction of excellent Sub-Saharan African students to universities in Japan, helping both universities to further deepen their partnership.